In order to provide clean lighting solutions in rural India, The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI) under its flagship project ‘Lighting a Billion Lives’ (LaBL), deliberated on developing pathways and measures to light up 10 million lives by 2018 at its first Convention 2016, which was jointly organised by TERI with UK Department for International Development (DFID) and Smart Villages.
Since its inception, LaBL has adopted an entrepreneurial approach of delivering clean energy. Over the years, it has created a network of around 100 NGO partners, spread across the country. The campaign has enabled the creation of more than 250 Energy Entrepreneurs pan-India, who sell quality solar products as well as provide effective after sales services in their operational areas. These entrepreneurs have been technically trained and supported to further scale up their business in various other locations.
LaBL has received support at grassroot level as well as from various corporates under their corporate Social responsibility (CSR) initiatives, which will continue till its target year 2018, and beyond.
Reinforcing LaBL’s commitment, Dr Ajay Mathur, Director General, TERI said, “The LaBL partnership has succeeded in lighting the entrepreneurial fire in thousands of rural households who now provide solar products in their communities. The partnership will now reinvent itself to reach out to ten times as many entrepreneurs in the next three years”
Convention 2016 brought together more than 250 practitioners, donor agencies, academicians, policymakers, businesses and students to promote a dialogue for facilitating closer cooperation on rural energy access, strengthening capacities, delivering a better understanding of the motives and drivers that shape energy policy.
Besides the 100,000 MW of solar power, even small off-grid solar system in places where electricity cannot be reached makes a significant difference, said Upendra Tripathy, Secretary, Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE). He mentioned examples of individuals working in home-grown cottage industry set-ups whose incomes have increased with the access to de-centralized solar energy. There have been innovations on small scale with the introduction of solar panels, where villagers in Sunderbans for instance, are growing turmeric and ginger in the land under the installed panels, thus ensuring better utilization of resources .
Presiding over the inaugural session, Tarun Kapoor, Joint Secretary, MNRE said, “TERI has been working on all across the globe. The solutions that MNRE proposes, for example, solar charging stations, were introduced by TERI. The solar lanterns are too are now becoming very popular.”
Talking about the need to scale up these solutions, he added that while the government will continue to provide support to the large market that has developed for the solutions, gradually we must modulate our support in a manner that free market develops, which provides good quality, affordable products with good service. He also mentioned that MNRE is working on a legal framework to ensure good quality of imported clean energy technology in the country.